By Sara Rajabova
West Virginia has become another US state to recognize the Khojaly genocide committed by Armenian armed forces against Azerbaijani civilians during the 1990s war.
The House of Representatives of West Virginia has adopted a resolution over the 21st anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy. The resolution commemorates the victims of the crimes perpetrated by the Armenian armed forces in Azerbaijan's Khojaly town and also says that the Khojaly tragedy was part of the military aggression and ethnic cleansing carried out by Armenian military units in Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region from 1988.
In addition, the resolution reflects the fact that international NGOs regard the Khojaly events as a terrible tragedy that breaches the rules of common law.
West Virginia is the 12th U.S. state to recognize the Khojaly massacre after Massachusetts, Texas, Maine, New Jersey, Georgia, New Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
Besides, the resolutions on the Khojaly tragedy have been passed in the parliaments of Turkey, Pakistan, Mexico, and Colombia, as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
This year, such resolutions were adopted in the parliaments of the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The town of Khojaly was situated within the administrative borders of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Its population constituted over 7,000 people.
Late into the night of February 25, 1992, Khojaly came under intensive fire from the towns of Khankendi and Askeran already occupied by Armenian armed forces. The Armenian forces, supported by the ex-Soviet 366th regiment, completed the surrounding of the town already isolated due to ethnic cleansing of the Azerbaijani population of the neighboring regions. The joint forces occupied the town, which was ruined by heavy artillery shelling.
Thousands of fleeing civilians were ambushed by the Armenian forces. Punitive teams of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh defense army reached the unprotected civilians to slaughter them, mutilating some of the bodies. 613 civilians, including 106 women, 70 elderly and 83 children, were killed in the massacre. A total of 1,000 civilians were disabled. Eight families were exterminated, and 25 children lost both parents, while 130 children lost one parent. Moreover, 1,275 innocent people were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 remains unknown.
Armenia and Azerbaijan for over two decades have been locked in conflict, which emerged over Armenian territorial claims. Since the lengthy war in the early 1990s that displaced over one million Azerbaijanis, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions.
Russia, France and the U.S. - co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - have long been working to broker a solution of the long-lasting conflict, but their efforts have been largely fruitless so far.